Flushed wet wipes cause Hemel Hempstead play area closure

12 September 2018

Baby wipes are causing hundreds of thousands of blockages in the UK sewer system and costing the country £100m every year, despite packaging describing them as “flushable”.

Wet wipes are often partly made of polyester, a form of plastic that doesn’t deteriorate like, for example, a tissue might do. This is woven together with cotton, but as a whole means wipes remain together in waterways for a long time.

Consequences to the issue were clear after Gadebridge’s brand new play area had to be closed for several days after raw sewage, caused by a wet wipe and 'unflushables' blockage, flooded the area. Thames Water said it had to disinfect all the equipment at the park in Hemel Hempstead, as well as replacing 22 tonnes of sand, after the sewer became blocked.

The Area Performance Manager for the water company commented, "It may seem convenient to put a wet wipe down the toilet but as we saw here, the consequences can be severe and can seriously impact the environment-“encouraging the use of toilet paper and the correct disposal of wet wipes. 

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